Home Read Classic Album Review: Remy Shand | The Way I Feel

Classic Album Review: Remy Shand | The Way I Feel

The soulful Winnipeg singer-songwriter's debut goes down as smooth as cognac.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


For a medium-sized city smack dab in the middle of nowhere, Winnipeg has produced a long list of musical talent — The Guess Who, Crash Test Dummies, Neil Young, The Watchmen, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Weakerthans, Chantal Kreviazuk, Bif Naked, Holly McNarland, Propagandhi, Duotang and plenty more.

Now you can add another name to that list: Remy Shand. Who? Don’t worry — nobody’s really heard of him yet. But in a couple of months, after his debut album The Way I Feel gets its hooks into the pop charts here and in the U.S., everyone should know this ridiculously talented soul-pop crooner and songwriter’s name. This is a soul-pop gem filled with supple, subtle grooves, ear-catching melodies and powerful vocals that sound like they came straight from the Motown vaults in Detroit. Or maybe from the archives of Curtis Mayfield’s studio in Philadelphia. Perhaps even from Prince’s basement in Minneapolis.

Try his parents’ condo in Garden City. That, amazingly, is where the 24-year-old Shand spent four years writing, arranging, recording and producing these 11 slices of authentic, classic soul — by himself. Four years playing everything from the funky drums and percussion to the groovy bass and wah-wah guitar to the shimmering electric pianos and vintage synths. Four years multi-tracking his voice into backup choruses. And four years channelling the essence of every legendary Motown artist from Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to Smoky Robinson and Michael Jackson, weaving all their strengths into a sound that’s authentic without being derivative, classic without being nostalgic — and that goes down as smooth as the cognac that shares his name. (Hey, don’t take my word for it. Ask Motown Records; it’s putting out The Way I Feel in the U.S.)

The disc’s first single Take A Message, now in rotation on MuchMusic, is the perfect introduction to Shand’s style. Gently grooving to a slinky, seductive rhythm and lightly fingered bass line, built around simple piano chords and a whistling synth melody, powered by Shand’s lover-man falsetto and lush background harmonies, Take A Message is the finest four minutes of pure pop perfection since MmmBop and Livin’ la Vida Loca. Except you won’t be sick of it in three months. Nor will you get tired of the other 10 cuts on this 45-minute album — not the chicken-pickin’ blaxploitation funk of Liberate and The Second One, not the slow Prince ballads like I Met Your Mercy and Burning Bridges. In fact, thanks to Shand’s tastefully superb arrangements and inspired production, these songs don’t get older, they get better. With every listening, you hear something — a fluttering guitar lick here, a cool conga beat there — that you didn’t notice last time. That, along with the instantly catchy choruses and melodies, keeps you coming back for more. You and everybody else.